Three burning questions for the Marlins this season

The beginning of the Major League Baseball season is about to begin. The Miami Marlins are a team on the rise. Here are three burning questions for the 2019 season.

Six days and counting. The Miami Marlins season opener against the Colorado Rockies is March 28. For baseball fans like myself, it’s Christmas and spring.

After watching this team show that it could be a competitive ball club this spring, I am not ready to shut the door on the possibility of this franchise being one of the surprises of the baseball season. Of course, time will tell.

The Marlins are in their second year of a rebuild and reorganization. The first year under new ownership yielded 63 wins. With many new faces on the roster and the growth and development of young potential stars, there’s no telling how many wins they produce.

I’m not ready to anoint them as a playoff contender yet, but I am optimistic about a bigger step forward with this new blueprint in place.

If the team exceeds expectations, CEO Derek Jeter will be hailed a genius. It could mean manager Don Mattingly remains the skipper of the team for at least one more season.

With Grapefruit League baseball coming to an end and the focus shifting toward the 25-man roster, these are three burning questions that must be answered as we get ready to play ball for real.

How will the starting rotation fill out? – If the Marlins tinker with a six-man rotation it won’t be on a regular basis.

Let’s assume the two top pitchers, Jose Urena and Dan Straily, remain in the same order. Who is next? Depending on what you read, this could get interesting.

There are still five arms competing for four positions. Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards, and Caleb Smith all have a legitimate case to be part of the opening series rotation.

This is where it gets tricky. We don’t know what the team is going to do with Wei-Yin Chen yet. That decision is looming. Best guess is he moves to the bullpen. He could become a long relief option who eats up innings for this bullpen.

Even with that scenario, Mattingly will have to decide the remaining order of rotation. It has become the biggest and hottest topic of the spring season.

Where does Martin Prado fit with the team? – The staff here at Marlin Maniac has had many discussions about what happens with Martin Prado and this roster. The veteran third baseman is no longer a starter, but it’s still a valuable piece to this puzzle. The biggest question surrounding him is his durability.

There have been questions about whether the team would look to for fill his roster spot with another player because of his history of injuries.

I like the fact that Prado can play multiple positions and for a team that has many young players, Having a veteran leader on the bench and in the clubhouse is vital. He should platoon at first baseball and spell Brian Anderson at the hot corner from time to time.

While he may not be a member of this organization in the same capacity much longer, we are of the opinion that he would be a valuable coach for the organization in the future and potentially a manager at the MLB level down the road.

What happens to Don Mattingly?

While the focus has been making incremental improvements this season in the second year of this rebuild, I really think this is going to be one of the most talked about topics in 2019.

Mattingly has not had a winning season since joining the organization. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t shown the ability to make changes to his managerial style given the injuries he’s dealt with and the front office making moves to the roster.

The fact that he worked with such a young lineup last year and had to use 13 different starting pitchers during the season handcuffed this team in 2018.

I believe this is a team that could surprise us all and win as many as 80 games. Of course, a lot has to happen over the season for that to hold true. If the Marlins come out with this young rotation and are able to win consistently but not make the playoffs, does that mean he gets an extension?

If not, does it mean he moves up in the organization in some other capacity? Would it mean that Jeter will look to fill that position within the organization, or look outside to replace him?

The one thing I keep thinking about is the fact that Joe Girardi is still out there.